Check Your Six! was on the plate again for our gaming group last night. We had a good crowd of six players and were able to get in two games, one set in New Guinea and a second in the skies over Holland during Operation Market Garden.
The New Guinea scenario is based on an encounter in December 1942 in which Richard Bong scored the first of his 40 air combat victories. This mission was also the first joint operation between the Japanese Army and Navy air units in the SW Pacific. P-38 Lightnings of the 39th Fighter Squadron intercepted Japanese D3A1 dive bombers escorted by Navy A6M2 Zeros and Army Ki-43 Hayabusa. At the start of the game, the Vals and Zeros were finishing their dive and the Lightnings attacked from above. The Japanese set up the Zeros and Oscars behind and to either side of the Vals. The Japanese variable roll resulted in one of the two groups of Ki-43 being in top cover and able to dive in from above on turn 2.
The game started with the Vals performing an immediate split-S to reverse course and head for safety. Ken’s Lightings started toward the Vals, but when the Oscars dropped in behind them they immediately performed a split-S. Mik sent one P-38 to chase down the retreating Vals and sent his other aircraft to help out Ken, who was in the midst of six Japanese aircraft. Tom’s Zeros passed through Ken’s element and moved to fire on Mik’s veteran, scoring air frame damage. Ken and I had each reversed course again and exchanged fire. I got the better of the dice and scored engine damage against one of Ken’s P-38s.
Meanwhile, Mik’s other P-38came screaming down from high altitude at full speed and rapidly closed the distance on Bob’s slow D3As. Andy brought his shotai of three Ki-43s around to chase after Mik’s P-38. As the Lightning closed in, Bob turned to present a deflection shot. The trailing aircraft in Bob’s formation was obliterated by the heavy firepower of the P-38. Medium range fire from Andy’s Oscars was ineffective, but the tail gunner in one of Bob’s Vals scored a hit with his single light machine gun. Mik easily passed the Robustness roll, but rolled doubles and the lucky hit was for wing damage. Mik’s pilot failed the aircrew test and went into a spin at TAL2. Another failed aircrew test and the P-38 spiralled into the jungle. With one plane down and a couple dmaged, the Americans decided to disengage and the Japanese let them run so we could start another game.
For our second game of the evening, we switched to the European Theater of Operation. I had written a scenario based on an account I had read of a big furball over Maasricht during Operation Market Garden. A large group of German fighters attempted to break through fighter cover provided by US Mustangs and Canadian Spitfires to attack C-47s delivering supplies to the paratroopers below. The German players could gain bonus points if they could attack the transports below by diving out of the battle with no Allied aircraft within 15 hexes. Each player had a pair of aircraft and diced to determine set-up order. Mik (flying two Bf 109G-6) and I (flying two RCAF Spitfire IX) set up first. Ken set up his FW 190s behind my Spitfires and Bob set up his two Soitfire IXs behind Mik’s Bf109s. Finally Tom set up behind Bob with a pair of Bf109G-6s. Andy’s two P-51D’s enetered the table on turn 1 from the south.
The action started right from the start. I turned my Spitfires left and dove to try and get away from Ken’s fighters, but Ken had instead turned toward Andy instead. Ken’s Ace pilot scored a hit and the heavy firepower of the A-8 model FW-190 did the rest, blasting one of Andy’s Mustangs. Also on turn 1, Bob had reversed course to engage Tom and in a head-to-head pass. Both scored hits, but Bob passed the Robustness test and Tom didn’t. Ken made excellent use of the formation rules, keeping his green pilot right on his element leader’s wing. I lost one of my Spitfires to one of Mik’s fighters, but Mik also lost one. As is typical of games involving the heavily armed late war birds, planes were dropping out of the sky left and right. Mik took his remaining fighter and headed toward an edge, hoping to get the required 15 hex separation that would let him dive away and score bonus victory points. However, Bob raced one of his Spitfires west to keep tabs on Mik. Ken brought his FW-190s around and moved in to attack. He maneuvered for an attack on my Spitfire with his formation’s green wingman, and was able to shoot down my other Spitfire. However, in doing so he exposed his Ace flier to a point blank attack from one of Andy’s Mustangs and suffered engine damage.
The battle evolved into two separate fights. Tom had gone to Mik’s aid and Bob found himself suddenly faced by two German Bf109s when Mik turned to fight. Andy was on his way to help, but it would be a couple of turns. Bob once again got the better of Tom when it came to a contest of dice, as Tom suffered a Engine Damage critical hit, reducing his speed to 1. Tom soon took another hit and was destroyed.
On the other end of the table, I was chasing after Ken’s wounded Ace (having taken over one of Bob’s Spitfires). I had started lower and slower than Ken, so had to climb up and gain the speed to engage the fleeing Germans. The green pilot first suffered airframe damage and then I was eventually able to finish off the green pilot. The remainder of the Germans were allowed to disengage and the Allies won a significant victory 22-14.
Another very entertaining evening of WWII air games. We are continually amazed at what a finely written game Scott Fisher and the crew at Skirmish Campaigns have created, Whether a WWII air power buff or a total aircraft neophyte, the folks in our group really enjoy playing Check Your Six!.
As usual, the scenarios used are available from the links on this report and on the Downloads page.